In 2000 I became interested in exploring with the creation of sound compositions using a restricted set of tools like noise-reduction and time-stretching algorithms on a variety of source materials, with the intention of producing long, meditative pieces for mainly private listening. Some of these works were based on audio data from older sound files with more or less developed structures, others on raw data from photographic image files.
The most fruitful experiments were those made with data from analog sources. Allah is one of these. The source material for this piece was a single fragment of Moslem vocal music, recorded from shortwave radio some years earlier. Recording on cassette tape from a mono source was converted to digital stereo and then stretched to a duration more than ten times that of the original. The operation was carried in iterative steps, each new pass of time-stretching adding to and enhancing the errors and artifacts produced by the preceding passes. The result, through the amplified differences between the two audio channels, introduced by the magnetic tape, is an interesting stereo picture created virtually "out of nothing," or at least, out of very very little.
There is no end or beginning really, and the piece can be played back as a continuous loop.
Allah contains a lot of clipping due to unexpectedly peaking amplitudes, much of the clipping being rather irregular, and I've let it remain as it happened in the beginning and not tried to "correct" or "polish" these irregularities.
Creating Allah was so simple that I remember feeling like I was cheating, all this obtaining results instantaneously as opposed to the meticulous crafting with sound clips in wave editors and sequencing tools.
The reason for creating the meditative noise compositions like Allah was to attempt to find some "sacred-like" qualities in, or approaches to, the physical and cultural environments surrounding us, to produce a kind of "instant ambient music" or "transmissions from the unseen world" by intuitively picking the source data and then exploring into it. I was often reminded of the nights spent in zooming into fractals on the Fractint software in the early 90s. Some of these pieces are like fractals, or behaved like fractals, just like this piece opening into a new, hidden level inside the first, a level that echoes the original song for Allah in a multitude of smaller, but similar, voices.
From the childhood, I have been in love with listening to radio: not precisely to the programmes broadcast themselves, but more properly to the radio sound world and the act of listening itself. Especially with the shortwave, there is exists rich array of "extraneous" elements at play on the waves competing and mingling with the programming offered by hundreds of stations east and west. Planetary phenomena, local electromagnetic interference, irregularities and faults of the receiving hardware used, all contribute to the unique listening experience that radio offers. Many of my sound pieces have dealt with radio themes and sources, most notably the Radio Canvas series (released as Unproduct on Linguablanca Recordings). Allah also, albeit being of a slightly more subdued and minimalistic variety, falls within this category.
I would say that ALL of my sound work is about listening. Listening in general and listening to radio in particular.
March 15, 2007